In any credible profession, you will likely have to study ethics at some stage or another. When you read modern ethics, you’re reading Gert’s “Common Morality.” Whether this is the actual book you’re reading or not doesn’t matter. This is the groundwork from which most modern ethics stems.
If you’re reading something based on this framework, stop, put that book down, and pick this one up. So many academic texts get criticized for being over-complicated, taking essentially simple topics and turning them into epic diatribes. Another major name in ethical framework, John Stewart Mill, can definitely be accused of this (though to be fair, Mill wrote his work back when over-complication seemed necessary for scholarly work). Gert, however simply cannot be criticized in this way. This book is one of the most straight-forward, to-the-point, academic texts I have ever read. He puts his points out there clearly and makes them easy to grasp.
This book lays out a simple, easy to follow method for making an ethically informed decision in any circumstance you could come across. The simple for moral analysis put forth here is simple enough to be remembered well beyond your course of study and versatile enough to be applied to even the most extraordinary of circumstances. The ethical system espoused here is independent of any legal, religious, cultural or professional system and yet easily works within the ethical confines of any of them. That is the beauty of this book. While Utilitarianism as a moral system often gets confused with something almost fascist in nature (the good of the many, despite the fact that this was not at all what Mill meant), there is no chance for such confusion here.
As a grad student in Journalism at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg, I actually had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Gert in a class lecture. He was brought in as a guest speaker in the media ethics class I attended. He is as nice and helpful of an individual as his text would make him out to be. He was willing to go out of his way to explain even the tiniest details in his work and engage in healthy conversation analyzing a number of hypothetical scenarios in order to show his work in action. I would not only recommend this book for any professional study of ethics, but would also deem it necessary reading for anyone. Everyone should evaluate their moral code at some point in their lives, just to make sure they are the kind of person they claim to be. This book will give you that answer.